On Fitz Henry Lane’s
by Richard Dey
He did not have to travel far for this one,
did not need to sail Penobscot’s reaches
and lucky, that, because he could not sail
for the pain in his bad legs, the age in his bones.
He did not need a big canvas for this one
and once he had it, no lithographs for sale;
nor the color spectrum—the rock’s brown hues
belong to mast and deck, the beach and sea.
He did not need the rig detail for this one,
a ship stage-right to the rock at center stage.
He did need light, but that for Lane was given—
a light blue sky with slight fair weather clouds.
Were the main objects in the painting there
or did he splice together what he’d seen
elsewhere: a schooner hard aground, the rock,
the tide dead low, flat calm, a taunting sky?
Whose vessel was she? What cargos lost or sold?
The tide will turn, but not for her forgotten,
derelict, her bows turned inbound or out,
and when it does the rock will float, unmoved.
Copyright © 2017 by Richard Dey.